“Liking” a political candidate’s Facebook page is a protected form of speech under the First Amendment, a federal appellate court ruled Wednesday.
The decision came in a lawsuit brought by six former employees of the Hampton, Va., sheriff’s office, who said they were not reappointed to their jobs when the sheriff won reelection in 2009 because they supported his opponent in the election.
Two of the plaintiffs argued their support of the sheriff’s opponent on Facebook were the reason they were not hired back. One “liked” the opponent’s page and posted an encouraging comment, and the other just posted a supportive comment to the page.
The district court had ruled that the employees’ Facebook activity wasn’t free speech, that “merely ‘liking’ a Facebook page is insufficient speech to merit constitutional protection,” but on Wednesday the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected that interpretation.